Seven-try Dragons claim away win
Superb Dragons ended a four-and-a-half year wait for an away win in the Guinness PRO14 in emphatic fashion by piling up the points against 14-man Zebre in Italy.
Dragons had not tasted success on the road since beating Benetton in March 2015 – but they blitzed that stat with a seven-try victory at Stadio Lanfranchi.
Zebre had led at the break before a red card seconds into the second half to home wing Charlie Walker saw momentum swing.
Dean Ryan’s men went on the attack and scored 38 points to power to the try bonus, with Owen Jenkins leading the way with a brace.
Skipper Rhodri Williams, Jordan Williams, Harri Keddie, Taine Basham and a penalty try were the other scorers as Dragons tasted long overdue away day joy.
Dragons had been forced into a late change with Brok Harris replacing the injured Ryan Bevington, with Josh Reynolds moving onto the Bench.
The visitors made a promising start with the returning Keddie flying into contact and Sam Davies chipping ahead to try and break clear.
However, from a first break into the Dragons 22, Zebre went away with maximum points. After several forward charges, back row Iacopo Bianchi burrowed over from close range and fly half Biondelli added the extras.
Five minutes later a long pass from Rhodri Williams was picked off by home Number Eight Giovanni Licata who had the pace to make the try line from halfway.
Dragons struck back decisively, after a series of penalties against the home side, as wing Will Talbot-Davies looked to dive in the corner.
The referee went to the TMO for clarification and awarded a penalty try for taking the man out in the air and yellow carded Walker.
Moments later a penalty on their own line for holding on gave Dragons another attacking platform and after a lineout drive the ball was punched up by Leon Brown and Rhodri Williams dived over.
Ryan’s men were looking to inject pace into the game whenever possible, with Jenkins looking to break out wide and Lewis Evans always a willing carrying option.
The visitors were enjoying a huge territorial advantage and turned down points to go for the corner only to see a fired up Zebre defence fly up and repel wave after wave of attacks.
Basham did fly over the try line only to be pulled back by the referee after the official had blocked a covering tackle.
And, totally against the run of play, Zebre grabbed a try with the final play of the half as scrum half Josh Renton took a quick tap penalty and went over for a 21-14 lead.
The second half exploded into life as wing Walker was red carded 31 seconds after the restart, picking up his second yellow after the referee had warned Zebre over mounting penalties.
Four minutes later an intercept by Jenkins saw the wing slide over to score as Dragons looked to take full advantage of the extra man.
Full back Jordan Williams produced a superb jinking run from deep to score a sensational solo effort to wrap up the try bonus point with half an hour left.
Dragons continued to push for a decisive score to send them clear and 15 minutes from time a penalty at the scrum saw Davies nudge them ten points clear.
Quick-fire tries from Jenkins, after more forward power, and Basham, after a break and offload from Joran Williams, saw Dragons storm clear.
Keddie then crashed through tired tackles to score before Zebre had the final word with a penalty try on the final whistle.
09m Bianchi t Biondelli c 7-0
14m Licata t Biondelli c 14-0
20m Penalty t 14-7
23m R. Williams t Davies c 14-14
40m Renton t Biondelli 21-14
44m Jenkins t Davies c 21-21
49m J.Williams t Davies c 21-28
65m Davies p 21-31
70m Jenkins t Davies c 21-38
72m Basham t Davies c 21-45
75m Keddie t Davies c 21-52
80m Penalty t 28-52
Zebre: Massimo Cioffi, Charlie Walker, James Elliott, Enrico Lucchin, Pierre Bruno, Michelangelo Biondelli, Joshua Renton; Danilo Fischetti, Marco Manfredi, Alexandru Tarus, Mick Kearney, George Biagi (c), Iacopo Bianchi, Johan Meyer, Giovanni Licata
Replacements: Massimo Ceciliani, Daniele Rimpelli, Giosué Zilocchi, Samuele Ortis, Apisai Tauyavuca, Nicolò Casilio, Leonardo Mantelli, Federico Mori
Dragons: Jordan Williams (Botica 77), Will Talbot-Davies, Tyler Morgan, Jack Dixon (Warren 58), Owen Jenkins, Sam Davies, Rhodri Williams (Knoyle 71); Brok Harris (Reynolds 78), Richard Hibbard (Lawrence 69), Leon Brown (Fairbrother 73), Joe Davies (Taylor 49), Matthew Screech (Williams 77), Lewis Evans, Taine Basham, Harrison Keddie
Replacements: Rhys Lawrence, Josh Reynolds, Lloyd Fairbrother, Max Williams, Huw Taylor, Tavis Knoyle, Jacob Botica, Adam Warren
Referee: Sean Gallagher (IRFU)